1 year ago

Making Nature Count



RESEARCH SESSION “For sustainable growth, we need to consider all the marine’s costs and benefits” - Stephen Hynes, Scientific Director of the Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway The Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) is known for the production of ocean economy statistics, such as turnover and employment, but that’s a surface-level analysis of the economic contribution of the marine environment. There’s a whole host of other services that we haven’t really looked at, and that’s what this EPA project is about. When we look at the sea we think of fishing, commerce and shipping, but there are other things that we value going on too: aesthetic values, waste assimilation, recreation, carbon sequestration, cultural inspiration through art and music. At EU and national levels, policy has made the need for economic analysis explicit, so we need to be able to say somthing about achieving good environmental status, the ecosystem services and the benefits that they provide to society, as well as their value. To support sustainable growth across marine industries and sea basin strategies, we need to consider all the costs and benefits. Doing Click here for slides Click here to watch on YouTube this can help with decision-making and protection of the marine environment (for example, we can value the ecosystem services we get from saltwater marshes or kelp beds in terms of storm surge alleviation to inform decisions about climate change mitigation and adaptation). It also can help to communicate the importance of marine ecosystems, assess the cost of natural resource damage, inform national environmental accounts, set a framework to guide market-based instruments (such as tax incentives, fees and subsidies), as well as guiding national and international strategies and directives. A key problem is that we don’t fully understand the ecosystem’s functions and processes, so before we get to valuation, we have an issue around ensuring we understand the ecosystem cascade from the functions and processes, services and benefits, down to the values. In this project we used the UN CICES classification system to see what we could value based on the literature: • Provisioning Services: Using market prices, we estimated off-shore fisheries = €472m, inshore fisheries = €42m, aquaculture = €148m, seaweed harvesting = €4m. • Regulating Services: Using a variety of methods, we estimated that certain waste assimilation services are in the order of €317m, coastal defence services €11m, and CO2 absorption services €855m. • Cultural Services: Again using a variety of non-market valuation methods, we estimated recreational services to be in the region of €1,700m, scientific and educational €11m and certain aesthetic services €68m. 26 #MakeNatureCount

RESEARCH SESSION “Better communication is needed between urban green space decision-makers” - Caitriona Carlin, Researcher at the Applied Ecology Unit, National University of Ireland, Galway Click here for slides Click here to watch on YouTube In 2015, the first ever national survey of health and wellbeing was done under the ‘Healthy Ireland Framework’. It found that 13% of respondents thought there was a problem with the lack of open, accessible green space. Who makes green space available to us? What’s important to them? Are those values shared or do they differ? And what are the implications for the rest of us? Our study identified five different types of green space decision-maker: 1) Planners, 2) Engineers, 3) Local Authority staff (including landscape architects, heritage and biodiversity officers, and parks staff), 4) Local conservation staff, and 5) Health practitioners. that contact with nature benefited their health and wellbeing, that it helped to reduce their stress levels and helped them feel fitter. They also agreed that when they connect with nature, they are motivated to look after and protect it. But, unsurprisingly, they didn’t agree on everything. Only the engineers agreed that a big green area for sport is much more important than areas of biodiversity, and that playgrounds were much more important than wild areas. They also preferred neat and tidy areas. Planners and health promotion officers both preferred open areas to closed, woodland areas in urban settings. These results point to a need for better communication. All our different stakeholder groups need to talk to each other about what’s of value to them, and they also need to talk to the communities that the public green spaces they design, create and manage must accommodate us throughout our lifespans. One of the key points that urban green space decision-makers disagree on We asked them questions about what they value in relation to the health benefits we get from nature. All stakeholders strongly agreed 27 #MakeNatureCount

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